Could Conflict of Interest Provide Iowa a Loophole?
Fans of the epic television saga "Lost" may recall a particular exchange to end the fifth and penultimate season. (Spoiler alert if you're still looking to catch up on a show that ended almost three years ago).
MAN IN BLACK: Do you have any idea how badly I wanna kill you?
MAN IN BLACK: One of these days, sooner or later... I'm going to find a loophole, my friend.
JACOB: Well, when you do, I'll be right here.
The Man in Black wanted to be free of the island. Iowa, would probably like to be free of head coach Kirk Ferentz (another Man in Black). This week, the Iowa Gazette reports that an undisclosed conflict of interest in the last six months over the hiring of Ferentz's future son-in-law is under review by the University of Iowa. Could that get the Hawkeyes out from under the nearly $19 million buyout it would take to end the Ferentz era in Iowa City?
Recall that former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino was fired for giving preferential treatment in hiring a young lady to his staff that he was having an affair with. This came after an 11-2 season with high hopes on the horizon for a national championship run the following year.
While the Ferentz case isn't nearly as scandalous, Ferentz is coming off a 4-8 season and has gone 10-14 in Big Ten play over the last three years. Iowa's lastest recruiting class is 12th out of 14 teams (if you include future conference members Maryland and Rutgers). It's fair to say that they wouldn't have offered Ferentz his current contract if they'd know how poorly things would go since he signed it.
The initial action by the University of Iowa has been to alter the chain of command so that the future son-in-law of Ferentz would no longer report through the football program. But who knows whether this would be the final action on the matter taken by the school.
If you were the agent or financial advisor for Ferentz, you would have begged Ferentz not to hire his son-in-law coming off of such a bad three-year stretch. Heck, Ferentz could write the youngster a check for twice the annual salary of an administrative assistant out of his own pocket and not risk losing the absurdly large contract or similarly ludicrous buyout. Now, the Hawkeye has put himself at risk for discliplinary action that could potentially involve fines or termination.
One thing working in favor of Ferentz is that other coaches at the school have made hires of family members without penalty. Ferentz himself was not punished when he hired his own son. Still, the opportunity to get Ferentz off the books could be just too tempting for the school. Chances are, he'll wise up and not make a similar mistake again. So Iowa may need to seize this opportunity.